Thousands of people gather in front of parliament to demonstrate violence against women. File photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA).

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape social development MEC Sharna Fernandez on Wednesday launched a campaign of 365 days of activism against violence against women and children.

The department said it had been mandated to facilitate a multi-sectoral consultation process to address the scourge of violence against women and children in the province.

It was holding the first of multiple workshops planned to address gender-based violence, guided by the Gender Based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan (NSP) and the premier’s Value Inspired Priorities (VIPs) in the Cape's crime hotspots.

According to the department, Wednesday’s workshop was aimed at knowledge sharing and improving co-ordination of societal initiatives to address violence against women and children. 

Roleplayers included stakeholders from all three spheres of government, academics, activists and civic organisations.

“We certainly need to start putting our money where our mouth is. I’m proud to announce today that for the first time in the history of this province, government officials are being tasked with designing a performance indicator that will be measuring how our department is addressing GBV during our term in government,” Fernandez said. 

She added that, on a year-to-year basis, her department’s success would largely be based on the ability to reduce the cases of violence being perpetrated against women in crime hotspots.   

Premier Alan Winde said: "Violence against women and children is not something which should receive our attention for just 16 days of the year. It needs to be something that we are constantly working against. We must acknowledge the role of men as the primary perpetrators of violence - which is why the Western Cape Safety Plan has a strong focus on violence prevention. The plan will work with young boys who are at risk of becoming violent, to give them opportunities, role models and mentors."

He said violence in general had crossed all social boundaries and been normalised. The number of rape cases in South Africa has increased by 3.9 percent from 40 035 during the 2017/18 financial year to 41 583 during the 2018/19 financial year. 

Sexual assault increased by 9.6 percent, attempted sexual offences increased by 3.9 percent, and contact sexual offences by 2,7 percent, according to Winde.

Approximately 4649 women were reported to have been raped in the Western Cape, of which 205 were between the ages of 0 to 9 years. These numbers do not include the large numbers of cases that go unreported.

Last month, president Cyril Ramaphosa launched the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, at which he said, “This crisis of violence against women and children is a great shame on our nation, It goes against our African values and everything we stand for as a people."

South Africa has been rocked by incidents of violence against women and children, which has led to nationwide marches and protests calling on the government to take swift action against perpetrators of the crimes.

African News Agency